Spanning a diverse range of media, Ilona Sagar‘s Haptic Skins of a Glass Eye at London’s Tenderpixel, which ran October 2 to 24, 2015, included performance, assemblage, sound and film.
Haptic Skins of a Glass Eye was deeply rooted in Sagar’s research into the public and private spaces we inhabit. The social and historical context given in the press release provides a fundamental guide to the way we encounter the work:
“… This condition [the “glass delusion”] was an external manifestation of a psychiatric disorder recorded in Europe between the 15th and 17th centuries. The first clear glass, cristallo, was invented in the 15th century… and people began to fear that they were made of glass, pottery and wood and might easily shatter to pieces…[this has now] been replaced with the development of neurological terminology such as hypochondria.”
The film acts as a nucleus to the show; objects assembled in the room orbit around the narrative on screen. The image, shot in HD, is focused, crisp and slightly perturbing in its constant oscillation between different subject matters. Tears and glass collapse into a shared state of liquid, hair follicles feel like wires and technological processes morph into a visceral body. Pulsing in and out, the sound is also ripe; the voice sits closely next to your ear reporting or recalling, “the damp into the small spaced side of my left cheek/ sweating like plastic/ slicked as unwashed skin/ stretching my fingers out to the front, above/ I can be sure that the distance expanded from each tip as a considered rhythm/ I progressively spent less and less time looking for myself, ugly with self conflicting, self referential acts.”
The objects in the front room feel like particles. Incomplete and not yet developed into functioning things, the glass sculptures have been solidified in their state of process. Placed on the floor on top of a piece of wood, two small glass organs lay intertwined, vaguely representing the shape of a heart or stomach. Another version sits upon the mantle piece over an old fireplace, the spherical bodies tethered to one another. Five more are elongated in shape, their thin torsos altering the energy of the space with its fragility. Headphones hang down above and two hollow wooden boxes sit facing one another, waiting for a body to occupy them. Fragments of vinyl lettering melt downward on the adjacent wall. Two pieces of A4 paper are stuck to the other wall, the content is opaque, however the hazy shape of a zoomed-in body part is just about recognisable. Plucked from Sagar’s macro and microscopic research, this assemblage embodies a type of residue or disintegration of language and surface.**
Exhibition photos, top right.
Header image: Ilona Sagar, Haptic Skins of a Glass Eye (2015). Exhibition view. Photo by Original&theCopy. Courtesy the artist + Tenderpixel, London.